It’s often said the gift of giving is better then receiving. Well you know what I’m feeling a bit bah humbug about giving this Christmas and the getting. Some years you know exactly what you want for Christmas. Your kids have a clear idea of something cool they’ve had their eye on and everything just falls into place, but this year it seems it’s not that clear cut. I found myself taking the kids to the local department store so they could point out gifts they might want. It was like pulling teeth. They’d happily have everything, but don’t want for anything. Why do that? Why make my kids think up gift ideas for things they will lose interest in, in a matter of moments. Why but stuff they don’t need just because it’s Christmas?
Then there’s the christmas gift guides, letterboxes full of junk mail with great gift ideas, TV advertisements spruiking the latest “must-have” gadget, rows and rows of Christmas decorations to refresh your tree and if you’re really committed then you must get all the matching festive tableware. Everything must be shiny and new. And do not even get me started on the school Christmas raffles you’re instructed to contribute products to, the dodgy teacher presents you have to buy and the school friends’ gifts to deliver in bundles to each classroom.
There’s too much stuff.
I adore Christmas. I like sparkly lights and tinsel. I love watching the kids getting excited by it all. I particularly like eating my mum’s amazing Xmas Trifle. The lazy days that follow the feasting. The time spent together. But what I do not get is this mass consumption of shit you don’t need. The hysteria around gift giving. If there’s something you really want then hooray – go for it. But if there is nothing, then don’t force yourself to look for something.
How about instead of stuffing stockings with bullshit or handing out boxes of chocolates and filling school raffle baskets with crap, you take a different approach this Christmas. Give your money to someone less fortunate. Or if you don’t have money, then give some time. Or if you don’t have time, then make a suggestion at your school or your work or within your family to give a gift to a charity instead of enduring the gift buying for someone you don’t really know that well so you can watch them fake like it. Or pounding the pavement for pressies for people who really do have it all already.
How about the people who have very little or nothing at all.
Here’s a charitable Xmas gift guide:
– Foundation 18 – This charity was established by humanitarian Cate Bolt in 2010. Based in the north of Bali in the small village of Ringdikit currently the home has 12 girls in residential care aged from 3 to 14 years of age. The Foundation is also supporting the establishment of local industries, education outreach programs, immunisations and elderly care. Just $20 will pay the petrol for its scooter for one month, which allows them to visit all the kids in their non-residential program and deliver rice to families.
– World Vision Gifts – You can donate anywhere from $5 which would buy pencils to $1425 for clean water for a community. Could you imagine the school community donating $2 dollars to the school and $2 dollar to World Vision – instead of spending money on fundraising raffles.
– Kids Helpline – For just $30 you could help support this service which provides help to kids who need it most. The organisation says it gets contacted by one child every minute of every day and for every 10 kids that contact them, six get through and the other four do not. By donating just a little it will help more kids get access to the helpline.
– Smith Family – With over 638,000 Australian children living in disadvantage, donations help this amazing organisation support young people to create better futures for themselves through education and mentoring. The gift of education is a powerful gift to give.
– Refugee Council of Australia – Reaching out to those who are new to Australia is vital. Our Federal Government’s inhumane policies are not supported by many Australians and it’s up to us to provide financial support they so desperately need and to fund advocacy groups working on behalf of refugees.
– Hutt St Centre – This organisation is close to home, being Adelaide-based. It needs money to support homeless people – simple as that. A $70 donation to Hutt St Centre is enough to buy a swag and a sleeping bag.
– Domestic Violence Resource Centre of Victoria – More than one in three Australian women who have had an intimate partner, have experienced violence from a partner or ex-partner. Family violence is real, children suffer and women die. For many women this Christmas they will be living in fear.
These are just a few organisations you could make a donation to this Xmas. There are so many more – children’s hospitals, Youngcare, mental health, disability services, indigenous health, the elderly and the list goes on and on and on. So many charities and service providers are reliant on public support. Christmas time is a hard time of year for so many and for those providing support to people who need it most it can be extremely difficult.
I’m not saying stop buying presents all together. Maybe you could simply look out for someone in your community is lonely, frail or displaced – reach out to them. Or if buying is your thing, then get some extra presents and pop them under a wishing tree. I’m not being the Christmas Grinch – I think it’s an awesome time of year. Giving presents is fun, eating yummy food is awesome, just be mindful of others who are struggling.
Christmas isn’t about stuff, it’s about giving to those who need it most. So, while you’re rushing around in a consumer frenzy, stop and think of what you can do to lend a helping hand. Kindness is the best gift to give.